Malaysia Airlines flies back to profit

KUALA LUMPUR, November 25, 2010 (AFP) - National carrier Malaysia Airlines said Thursday it had soared back into the black in the third quarter as it posted record passenger figures and as its cargo business improved.

The airline said it made a profit of 233 million ringgit (74.38 million dollars) in the three months to the end of September, compared with a net loss of 300 million ringgit last year as the sector was hit by the global downturn.

The carrier made a net profit of 9.0 million ringgit for the first three quarters compared to a 120 million ringgit loss for the same period last year.

That rise came despite a 535 million ringgit loss in the April-June quarter.

"We are delighted to be returning to profitability this quarter with both passenger and cargo segments performing well," chief executive officer Azmil Zahruddin said.

"Amidst a tough operating environment, we have managed to increase passenger load factors and yield," he added.

"This is due to aggressive domestic and global sales campaigns, competitive pricing coupled with the economic recovery in Asia Pacific."

Azmil said the airline recorded its highest seat factor in 15 years at 78.6 percent in the quarter with 3.3 million passengers compared to 76.7 percent for the same period a year ago.

Azmil said the airline's cargo arm, MASkargo, saw a 34.0 percent increase in revenues with figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showing load factors outperforming other airlines in the region by 4.0 percent.

The seat load factor refers to the percentage of seats sold on a particular flight while the cargo load factor identifies the amount of cargo space sold on a plane.

"Moving forward to 2011, we are positioning ourselves for profitable growth by taking delivery of new aircraft, identifying new growth areas and maximising revenues through aggressive sales and marketing," Azmil added.

He said the carrier had earlier this month taken delivery of two new B737-800 aircraft and will have one more plane by end 2010. The airline has ordered up to 55 B737-800s.

Azmil has said the airline will also take delivery of its first of six A380 superjumbos in April 2012. Delivery of the Airbus planes had been due in January 2007 but have already been delayed twice.

Malaysia Airlines announced last December that it would buy up to 25 Airbus 330-300 wide-body aircraft worth five billion dollars. The aircraft are slated for delivery from 2011 to 2016.